'Jaffer could be the perfect anchor' - Amre
Pravin Amre, the former Indian middle-order batsman who's most remembered for his century on debut at Durban, has a word of advice for the current crop of Indian batsmen who've embarked on the tour to South Africa: "get beside the line and not behind it".
"I was a front-foot player but because the ball was bouncing chest-high, I adapted by going back and across," he told Cricinfo. "I didn't try to keep the ball down. So rather than trying to get behind the line, what I would advise for the present lot of batsmen is to get beside the line and bring out the horizontal shots in play. It's up to the individuals. That worked for me, but I can't say that's the way to play. Each one has to figure out what works best for him."
Amre, who was recently appointed as the Mumbai coach, felt that the choice of Wasim Jaffer in the one-day squad was a good one, adding that his back-foot technique would be an asset on the sporting tracks expected to be laid out for the series. "We have a lot of strokemakers around him and he could play the anchor's job perfectly." Yet he cautioned that Jaffer needed to watch out while playing forward. "He's a bit late, at times, in shifting his weight on to front foot. He has worked on it a lot. But having said that I think the South African pitches would suit him actually."
Amre's debut hundred might not have been possible without a 101-run partnership with Kiran More, India's wicketkeeper at that time. More, who, until recently, was the chairman of selectors, concurred with Amre regarding Jaffer. "He's a very good batsman. He stands tall and plays well of the back foot which would be vital on those tracks. Moreover, he is a natural opener and opening is a specialist job."
India's touring party comprises two wicketkeepers - Mahendra Singh Dhoni and Dinesh Karthik - and More didn't rule out the possibility of both playing. "Karthik is a very good talent and he's been in fantastic form as a batsman and a wicketkeeper." India have struggled to summon the final kick at the end of one-day games - with Suresh Raina failing and Mohammad Kaif not getting a chance to play - and More felt that Karthik could solve India's No.7 pickle.
"Initially it will be difficult, but if the batsmen continue to fail, then why not?" In his playing days, More had played in teams with two wicketkeepers: Chandrakant Pandit played as a batsman while More donned the gloves. "Yes, I remember and that's why I won't be surprised if we see Karthik and Dhoni playing."
Both Amre and More had no doubt that the pitches would assist pace and bounce, yet added that it would mean more scoring opportunities. "The ball comes on to bat well, you have to take your chances and constantly keep looking for runs," said Amre. However, he had some words of caution to the present team. "We would be playing in November and December. That's the start of the season in South Africa. The wickets will have juice and the ball should move around." If you are an Indian fan, be afraid. Be very afraid.
Sriram Veera is editorial assistant of Cricinfo